Beacon Mills

The Beacon Mills were built at the northern end of Whitehaven docks. They took their name from the landmark Beacon Pike at Penrith and Beacon products became a famous name and household brand. As a local captain of industry John Pattinson was heavily involved in civic life.

He was Whitehaven's second mayor 1896-98 (following from Lord Lonsdale) and was presented to Queen Victoria during Jubilee celebrations. He stayed on the borough council until 1901 when he retired because of ill health, but continued to be a county councilor until his death in 1903.

When he died, the company was run by his sons, Jack and Charles Hugh Pattinson (Ron's grandfather). The First World War brought difficult trading times for the company but during World War II when there was a grain shortage, the mill was adapted to roll oats which were home grown and in plentiful supply.

Much of this production went to Quaker Oats who subsequently, in 1949, bought the mill. Quaker ran it until the 1960s when they shut it down. The large building was then demolished, in 1975. During its heyday Pattinsons had its own vessels, Margaret, Clint and Busk, to bring the firm’s grain from Liverpool.

Beacon Mills, Whitehaven
Beacon Mills, Whitehaven


Whitehaven had been small harbour and fishing village from 13th century or earlier. Expansion began in mid-17th century with building of piers by Lowthers 1632-4 and 1679-81 and granting of market charter 1660. By the 1680s it had grown rapidly, expanding from village of c.30 households in early 17th century to a town of over 1,000 inhabitants by 1685, which more than doubled to 2,281 by 1696. Sir John Lowther had laid out grid of streets by 1680s, making Whitehaven the earliest planned new town in post-medieval Britain.

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